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Ride the High Country 1962


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4.6 out of 5 stars (24) IMDb 7.6/10
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Western legends Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea made their sagebrush swan songs in this Sam Peckinpah tale. Two veteran gunslingers are hired to protect a gold shipment, only to find plenty of obstacles along the way.

Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea
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Product Details

  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 1 hour 34 minutes
Starring Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley, Ron Starr, L.Q. Jones
Director Sam Peckinpah
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
MGM thought they were producing just another B-Wesern when director Sam Peckinpah made this 1962 movie, but "Ride in the High Country" turns out to be a classic of the genre. Aging ex-Marshall Steve Judd (Joel McRae) is hired to transport a load of gold from a mining camp to town. He hires his old friend, Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott) and a younger one, Heck Longtree (Ron Starr) to help him guard the gold. Westrum tries to convince Judd to steal the gold, but Judd refuses. They attend the wild wedding of Elsa (Mariette Hartley), who ends up running away with them, having fallen for young Heck. While the groom's family comes after Elsa, Westrum and Longtree try to steal the gold. Judd stops them and vows to bring them in for trial. But when the in-laws catch up with Judd, Westrum returns to help out his old friend in one last gun battle.
"Ride the High Country" is about the death of the Old West. This film was supposed to be the last film for both Scott and McRae, although McRae changed his mind afterwards. Peckinpah presents a natural Western, in settings far removed from the Monument Valley splendor we associate with John Ford. Both the dialogue and the performances represent that realism as well. The final scene between Scott and McRae is as touching as any this side of "Shane." Of course, Peckinpah goes on to deal with the end of the Old West in a more different fashion in his classic "The Wild Bunch." But I really think this is the better Western once you get past all the bloody violence of the other one.
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By Bob Salter TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 April 2009
Format: DVD
"Ride the High Country" aka "Guns in the Afternoon", when first released went almost unnoticed, and was generally acknowledged to be just anther B western. But it is far from that! It is perhaps my own personal favourite western of all time, and I have watched a few! It has been somewhat forgotten which is sad, because it is one that should be in anyone's top ten list of westerns. It contains perhaps one of cinemas saddest and most poignant endings. It is in short a wonderful achievement. Peckinpah moved to film from TV having directed the excellent "The Westerner" series, starring Brian Keith. He then moved into film, making the excellent and also largely forgotten "The Deadly Companions"(60). After "Ride the High Country" he went on to make "The Wild Bunch"(69), another film that contains greatness.

In this film Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott are perfectly cast as a pair of ageing ex lawmen. McCrea has fallen on hard times and doesn't have two cents to rub together. Scott is busy trying to fleece punters in his fairground show, his law enforcing days long forgotten.

The following exchange between McCrea and Scott sums up McCrea's philosophy on life, a good man who truly believes that a good reputation is worth more than gold or silver. Scott says in some of cinemas greatest lines "Partner, you know what's on a poor man's back when he dies? The clothes of pride! And they're not a bit warmer to him dead than they were when he was alive" There is a pause and he adds "What do you want, Steve?"
McCrea's reply is startling and makes you sit bolt upright. "To enter my House justified". The quote is from the Bible in the book of Luke. The biblical cadence continues through the film with other quotes.
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Format: DVD
Sam Peckinpah's elegaic western, also known as "Guns In The Afternoon, is surely one of the finest in its genre. The director explores the themes of friendship, honour and loyalty in pressing circumstances and changing times. Joel McCrea and Randolph Scotts' time-served experience in starring in mostly B westerns is as present as the ageing and time-worn "lawmen" they portray. The banker's son (Byron Foulger), who laughably looks as old as his father (Percy Helton), shakes Steve Judd's (McCrea's) hand to seal the deal for McCrea fetching the gold from the miner's camp only to turn it over to inspect Judd's fraying cuff. A life of integrity, honesty and disappointed hopes has led the now desperate Judd to this new venture.

The film is about transformation and ultimately, redemption. Ron Star's Heck Longtree is a young man whose moral compass is finally influenced by Judd as it had been earlier by Westrum. The young man always had courage but he learns about the importance of honour and integrity from Judd as he changes from a selfish, womaniser and potential murderer to a young man capable of sacrifice and the faithful love of Elsa Knudsen (Mariette Hartley).

However, Scott's Gil Westrum is not the only character capable of transformation. In what must be one of the most moving scenes in cinema, let alone westerns, the audience knows that Westrum will carry out Judd's last wishes to the letter - and in doing so will be worthy of joining Judd "later" in "The High Country".

"Gil Westrum: Don't worry about? about anything. I'll take care of it, just like you would have.
Steve Judd: Hell, I know that. I always did... You just forgot it for a while, that's all.
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